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Movie Review: 'The Descendants' offers a fine cast headed by George Clooney

The Academy Award nominated film "The Descendants," now playing at the Fandango Galaxy movie house in Carson City, is a hard-eyed romantic comedy with an ensemble cast headed by George Clooney, the only name star aboard.
Doesn't matter, this is a fine cast from Clooney as Matt King to Judy Greer as Julie Speer, wife of a real estate salesman who … but let's let that wait.
The film opens with a scene of an attractive woman riding a boat. She's laughing in the wind. This is before an of the opening credits. No explanation given or needed.

Then Clooney comes in to deny Hawaii, where the movie takes place, is a paradise, backed by scruffy scenes of the city. Matt King is a well-do-do lawyer as well as the sole trustee for 25,000 acres of land on Kauai which he is soon going to have to sell due to state inheritance laws. He is married but his wife is in the hospital in a coma from which he has been told she will not come out of.

He lives with his 10-year-old daughter Scottie (Amara Miller, fine as something other than the "cute" kid) while daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodly, another real find who does more acting with the twitch of a mouth than most actors ever dream of) is off on another island recovering from addiction and a fierce dislike of her comatose mother, unexplained at first.

Matt and Scottie bring Alex home and while she is antagonistic about her mother she finally fells Matt that Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie, she of the opening clip) was having an affair with a man named Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard). Alexandra tells Matt this while swimming in their unkempt pool, and in a wrenching underwater scene she vents her grief.

Matt goes dashing out to friends' house where he questions the couple about the affair. They confirm it.

It's at the point the Clooney, with silver streaks in his hair, seems to physically shrink inside himself, as if the news was too much for him. He seems to lose body but gains moral structure.

But it's not all dreary. Lots of laughs of the right kind at the right times.
Matt tells his daughters that Elizabeth is going to die when they take her off life support, as she had requested at one time.

Matt and his daughters take a drive to a remote part of Kauai which is part of the trust. The scene is underplayed as a cousin explains where the golf course and hotel would go when the trust is broken up and sold. The view is indeed beautiful and the clash with modern business and natural beauty is understated.

Matt finally confronts his wife's lover who admits that it was just a lark for him, although he says Elizabeth loved him. As Alex and Matt leave Matt kisses Speer's wife Julie full on the mouth as a kind of signal that her marriage was not sound.

Later in Elizabeth's hospital room Julie (superb in her role) comes with a bouquet of flowers and in front of Matt tells the comatose Elizabeth that she forgives her for destroying her marriage and family.

Matt afterwards avoids the easy way out of also forgiving Elizabeth as well; instead he simply says goodbye with love.

There's a kind on interlude where Matt and his daughters add Elizabeth's ashes to the ocean. It's a quiet coda to Elizabeth whom we saw often in her hospital bed unmoving.

Matt then meets with all the cousins to announce the end of he trust and the pot of gold for all. But he reads the agreement and decides not to break up the trust but to fight to keep it intact --- as a family they owe that the Hawaii.

A quiet ending, fully in tone with the film as the three survivors settle on coach under Elizabeth's blanket, share ice cream and watch TV.

Director Alexander Payne (who wrote the final screenplay with others) uses a deft hand to meld all these elements into a rich whole. He doesn't stoop to sentimentality but touches it all with simple sentiment. He's fortunate to have such a splendid cast and an original such as Clooney to lead them. Oscar bound. Possibly.
--- Sam Bauman


  • George Clooney as Matt King
  • Shailene Woodley as Alexandra "Alex" King
  • Judy Greer as Julie Speer
  • Beau Bridges as Cousin Hugh
  • Nick Krause as Sid
  • Amara Miller as Scottie King
  • Matthew Lillard as Brian Speer
  • Robert Forster as Scott Thorson
  • Patricia Hastie as Elizabeth King
  • Mary Birdsong as Kai Mitchell
  • Rob Huebel as Mark Mitchell
  • Milt Kogan as Dr. Johnston
  • Laird Hamilton as Troy Cook
  • Michael Ontkean as Cousin Milo
  • Matt Corboy as Cousin Ralph
  • Celia Kenney as Reina

Directed by Alexander Payne
Produced by Jim Burke
Alexander Payne
Jim Taylor
Lawrence Gordon
Mark Gordon
Lloyd Levin
Screenplay by Alexander Payne
Nat Faxon
Jim Rash
Based on The Descendants by
Kaui Hart Hemmings
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael
Editing by Kevin Tent Studio Ad Hominem Enterprises
Running time 115 minutes, rated R because of language although that is a joke.

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On your “Must Not Miss” list, is the popular Downtown Wine Walk – held the First Saturday of every month from 1- 5pm. For just $10 (which supports the Downtown Business Association you’ll receive a commemorative wine glass and endless reasons to sip, stroll, and shop, the afternoon away, through Historic Downtown Carson City. Bring your wine walk glass with the Carson City Logo on it and pay only $8. Don't forget the after Wine Walk raffle prize party, 5:00pm, at the Cabaret Lounge, Carson Nugget Casino!

Tickets can be purchased at Bella Fiora Wines, Cactus Jack’s, Carson Jewelry & Loan, Carson Nugget, and Horseshoe Club, where you will receive hand stamps, glasses, and maps.

Sponsored by the Carson City Downtown Business Association, our goal is to carry on a local tradition, hosting an event which showcases a monthly Downtown celebration. It’s a Saturday stroll with a glass of wine through historic downtown Carson City where boutiques, local shops, galleries, restaurants and casinos, pull out all the stops to awaken your taste buds and tantalize your senses... experience a Downtown taste sensation!.

Day R. Williams scored top of his law school class in Evidence and Constitutional Law, and he wrote for the Law Review. He is known as a fine legal writer. Day has practiced solo for more than 20 years in Carson City. He has handled contract disputes, personal injuries, bad faith by insurance companies, probate, estates and trusts, appeals, and a murder case. Day has tried cases and appeared in court in Carson City, Reno, Minden, Yerington, Ely, Fallon, Pahrump, and Las Vegas, and he has argued before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a driving force in the first citizen-initiated grand jury in Nevada’s history.


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What began as a battery investigation where a convenience store clerk was hit with a banana, ended with the arrest of a man after he crashed his vehicle into a natural gas line forcing the evacuation of a casino early Sunday morning, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

Osvaldo Ruiz was arrested at 1:41 a.m. in the 2100 block of East Long Street after a vehicle and foot chase. He faces felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving willful conduct and eluding with endangerment as well as misdemeanor charges of DUI, obstructing and hit and run.

UPDATE: Thursday at 11 a.m., the Wells Fargo coach will be delivering Governor Brian Sandoval, Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell and Wells Fargo Regional Manager Chad Osorno and Wells Fargo Northern Nevada Area Manager Sean French to Fuji Park in south Carson City to preside over the official opening and ribbon cutting of Carson City’s contribution to the NV150 Anniversary event, the NV150Fair.

The NV150Fair will feature over 90 4-H and Future Farmers of America kids from around the region showcasing their animals and farm knowledge.

The Dayton Valley Days Committee invites crafters, vendors and anyone who wants to reach a large number of people to reserve booth space for the 26th annual street festival held in the heart of historic Old Town Dayton.
Dayton Valley Days is scheduled Sept. 20 and 21 with an expected attendance over 15,000.

CARSON CITY — Messy executions in Arizona and Ohio that made national headlines could buoy efforts by death penalty opponents to stave off capital punishment for some 80 Nevada inmates awaiting execution.

The cases could be used to pile on to the ever-growing number of legal challenges to capital punishment in the Silver State, adding the argument that the use of lethal injection should be considered a cruel and unusual form of punishment, said Clark County Deputy Public Defender Scott Coffee.

In the last three weeks we have had two pedestrians struck by vehicles while in crosswalks. For many this may not seem like a large number but even two is too many.

With the increase in traffic during the summer months and along with it a large amount of pedestrians out and about; we must all do our part to ensure the safety of those crossing the roadways.

CARSON CITY %u2014 Mention the Equal Rights Amendment today and it might bring back memories of the 1970s, from huge protest marches to "ERA Yes" buttons.

But the proposed constitutional amendment, which fell three states short of the 38 needed to win ratification by a 1979 deadline that Congress later extended to 1982, is not a relic in Nevada.

Scammers are at it again; most recently I received a letter from a citizen who was informed that they had won the “Inter-American Lotto Powerball” held in Hawaii. Having never been to Hawaii, the individual was pretty certain they did not win.

A check had been included with the letter which the recipient was asked to deposit and return a portion of the funds received. This was to pay for non- resident fees and administrative costs. A little research on the internet and it was obvious that the letter was a scam.

I was not the first to share the news of the Hyatt Hotel project; as it was already alluded to by the Northern Nevada Development Association on its website. In addition to numerous rumors that ran rampant throughout the community.

A wildfire in Northern California has destroyed five homes and several other structures near vineyards in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the Sand Fire has burned about 1,300 acres near the border of Amador and El Dorado counties. It was about 20 percent contained Saturday morning.

For all you car lovers out there, go down to Mills Park today and tomorrow for the Silver Dollar Car Show. You will see a lot of great classic cars without all the heat and crowds of Hot August Nights.

Nevada Power has amended its general rate increase request in a filing Friday with the state Public Utilities Commission, raising the revenue requirement to $37.8 million from the $20.8 million sought originally May 2.

Bark Whine and Dine to benefit the Carson Animal Services Initiative will be Sunday, July 27, at Fuji Park in Carson City.

The event will start at 1 p.m. and includes a barbecue lunch with food provided by Foodies Bystro and entertainment by Jake Houston. Proceeds from the event will help to build the new animal shelter in Carson City.

Make a bowl to fight hunger.  Free event for all ages

Enjoy a free family event this Saturday. Come and make an Empty Bowl to donate to the Empty Bowls Carson City Project in the lower level of the Children's Museum. 813 N Carson St, Carson City, NV.
All ages welcome. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26.

For more information on upcoming events, please like our Facebook page here and visit our website here.

Here is the Carson City area road report for July 29 through Aug. 3, 2014. The Nevada sesquicentennial Fair will be held at Fuji Park July 30 through August 3. Additional traffic may be expected in the area. Off-site parking will be at the Casino Fandango with free bus rides to and from the fair.

The Nevada Department of Transportation will be continuing road work on Highway 50 from Deer Run Road in Carson City to just east of Highway 341 in Mound House. There will be single lane closures on weeknights from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

A former Nevada lawmaker who led California police on a high-speed chase on the day he was expelled from the state Assembly has been ordered to two years and eight months in prison.

Living the Good Life, a new upscale nightclub on the corner of Adams and North Carson Street, is celebrating its grand opening tonight with live music and dancing.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and close when the party stops. Starting at 9 p.m. Dane Reinhart will be playing music and serving as DJ.

Carson City fire and ambulance were called this afternoon to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the 400 block of North Carson Street.

The victim was taken by Care Flight to the trauma ward of Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno.

The accident was reported to Carson City dispatch at 2:26 p.m. Carson City sheriff's deputies were redirecting traffic around the accident scene.

Care Flight landed behind a nearby casino parking lot at Robinson Street. No other details were available on the victim.

Food and restaurant inspections are made weekly by the Carson City Health and Human Services Environmental Health Division. Inspections here were made through July 18, 2014.

See the full report below.

A Carson City couple were jailed Thursday on felony drug charges, including suspicion of providing marijuana to minors in exchange for chores, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

The Carson City Library has joined the Salvation Army’s Carson City Corps Community Center in preparing students for the upcoming school year. The Back-To-School supply drive will run through August 11. A collection barrel and Apple Tree Poster is located at the library’s main Help Desk.